Mark Bridge writes:
Last year, mobile payments seemed a lifetime away. Even Visa Europe's head of mobile wasn't overly optimistic about the likelihood of the 'mobile wallet' becoming a reality in the short-term.
And then along came Orange and Barclaycard with last week's announcement about their summer launch of mobile payments in the UK.
This week we have not one, not two, but three mobile payment announcements. O2 UK is applying for an e-money licence and plans to launch a mobile payment service later this year. Ericsson has created a business called Ericsson Money Services. And Visa Europe has developed a clip-on mobile payment accessory for iPhones in partnership with Wireless Dynamics. Let the battle of the competing standards commence!
Talking of competition, research company Canalys says the Android operating system has overtaken Symbian to become the world's leading smartphone platform. Its figures show that 32.9 million Android-based smartphones were shipped worldwide in Q4 2010, followed by 31 million devices running Nokia's Symbian platform, although some disagree with their calculations. However there's little doubt about Android's move into tablet devices; Strategy Analytics says Android captured 22% of the global market in the fourth quarter of 2010.
While we're on the subject of growth, let's not forget Vodafone, where data revenue has exceeded messaging revenue for the first time ever. (Mind you, just look at recent reports about consumer electronics, machine-to-machine connections and the demand for mobile video). The company also announced a new chairman – Sir John Bond will soon be replaced by Gerard Kleisterlee from Philips Electronics – and said it wasn’t happy after its recent dealings with the Egyptian government. It seems they're not on their own with that last point.
A couple of popular online services have announced new mobile features in the last few days. Facebook Deals was introduced to the UK, offering discounts from participating retailers when customers 'check in' using their phones. But there's a new check-in kid on the block, too. Google has added a check-in feature to its Latitude location service – and it’s introduced a browser-based store for Android users. You can now remotely download apps to your phone from your PC's browser. Or to someone else's phone if they've left their Google account logged on.
From spending on apps to spending on spectrum. Ofcom, having had its hand forced by new legislation in December, published a proposal that would allow UK mobile network operators to buy and sell radio spectrum from each other. Improved service for consumers is promised, although it’ll be interesting to see how this works out in reality.
I'll sign-off with a story that ended this week's podcast news. (If you've not listened yet, our special guest is Jonas Vig, co-founder and CEO of mobile video streaming service Bambuser). Research from the USA suggests 47% of mobile app users click on more in-app ads by mistake than they do deliberately. In-house research from TheFonecast.com suggests the vast majority of these clicks can be blamed on high-flying Angry Birds!
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